New Delhi: The health of the citizens, air pollution, electric vehicles, and legacy waste find a special mention in the Delhi government’s budget for the financial year 2023-24. On Wednesday (March 22), Finance minister Kailash Gahlot presented a Rs.78,800-crore budget in the Delhi assembly. This is 8.69 per cent higher than the revised estimates for 2022-23. The theme of the Delhi Budget largely revolved around building a ‘Clean, Beautiful, and Modern Delhi’. The budget brings in some ambitious plans to make the national capital clean, green and healthy.
Here’s what Delhi’s budget has in store for creating a Swachh and Swasth city:
1. Electrification of Public Transport
The budget proposes to introduce 1,600 modern, zero-emission electric buses this year, including 100 feeder buses. As per the budget, this will make Delhi‘s electric bus fleet the largest among all states in India by the end of 2023. This is being done as part of a massive plan to induct a total of 8,280 electric buses (80 per cent of the total fleet) by 2025. Mr Gahlot said,
As a result, approximately 4.6 lakh tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions will be reduced every year. This will help in significantly reducing pollution levels in Delhi.
In a first, a dedicated last-mile connectivity scheme called “Mohalla Bus” scheme will be launched in Delhi next year with 100 smaller (nine-metre length) electric buses, scaling up to 2,180 “Mohalla Buses” by 2025. This is to fix the critical gap in last-mile connectivity in Delhi.
To implement electric buses into the public transport fleet, the anticipated expenditure is Rs. 28,556 crore over the next 12 years. The Finance Minister proposed an allocation of Rs. 3,500 crores for Delhi Government bus services towards the next financial year.
Also Read: 80% Of Delhi’s Bus Fleet Will Run On Electric By 2025: CM Arvind Kejriwal
2. Electrified Bus Depots
The budget also commits electrification of 57 existing bus depots of Delhi so that they are ready for the induction of electric buses. 3 depots are already electrified and 17 more bus depots will be electrified by June 2023. The final deadline is of December 2023. The state government plans to spend about Rs 1,500 crore on the electrification of bus depots.
3. Dust-free Roads
On all PWD (Public Works Department) roads, the government plans to initiate mechanised road sweeping and washing of roads to ensure that no dust is generated or accumulated. To achieve this, 70 mechanical road-sweeping machines and 210 water-sprinkler cum anti-smog gun machines will be procured. Mr Gahlot said,
It will be our endeavor, that by the end of the financial year 2023-24, every single corner of PWD roads is cleaned up and no loose dust is accumulated or flying due to the movement of vehicles.
The problem of road dust is prevalent on smaller roads as well, that fall under the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. In order to make “all the roads in Delhi dust free”, the Delhi government plans to deploy 250 water sprinkler machines integrated with anti-smog guns which will be utilised in the entire of Delhi on a need basis, for overall improvement in the ambient air quality of the city.
Mr Gahlot said,
This scheme of government will help in substantially reducing the contribution of road dust to Delhi‘s air pollution – which can go up to 35 per cent for PM10 and 28 per cent for PM2.5.
4. Clear Garbage Mountains
The three dumpsites in Delhi – Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla – are an eyesore. As the Delhi government aims to build a ‘clean, beautiful and modern city’, dealing with three garbage mountains is crucial. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Gahlot noted that “Although efforts have been underway to clear these garbage mountains for a few years, some estimates suggest that it will take 197 years to clear these garbage mountains at the current pace.” To fasten the process the Delhi government has joined hands to work together with the MCD and aims to clear up the mountains in two years.
We will ensure that we see the end of all three garbage mountains within two years, starting with the closure of Okhla landfill by December 2023, Bhalswa landfill by March 2024 and Ghazipur landfill by December 2024. To help make Delhi a clean, beautiful and modern Delhi, I propose a loan of Rs. 850 crore to the MCD in the financial year 2023-24.
Also Read: Garbage Mountains – Dotting The Landscape Of Delhi
5. Tackling Air Pollution
Finance Minister counted the achievements of his government and said that the presence of PM10 in the air of Delhi was 324 PPM (parts per million) in the year 2014, which has come down to 223 PPM in 2022. Similarly, the presence of PM2.5 in Delhi’s air was 149 PPM in 2014, which has come down to 103 PPM in 2022. He added,
The concentration of both PM10 and PM2.5 have reduced by more than 30 per cent in the last 8 years.
According to the WHO’s new guidelines released in September 2021, PM 10 should not exceed 15 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre of air) annual mean, or 45 µg/m3 24-hour mean. They recommend that PM 2.5 should not exceed 5 µg/m3 annual mean, or 15 µg/m3 24-hour mean.
One of the reasons behind reduction in air pollution is because of an increase in the forest cover, said Mr Gahlot.
The campaign to increase the forest cover on a war footing by the Delhi government has made a major contribution in the visible success in fighting pollution. Today, Delhi has per capita forest cover of 11.6 square meters which is more than any other mega city in the country.
Going forward, the government plans to take the real time source apportionment project to the next level by setting up 11 mobile vans (one in each district) to go across Delhi. The government will intensify its mega tree plantation drive next year by planting 52 lakh trees in the city.
6. Mohalla Clinics
In 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party government introduced Mohalla Clinics for primary healthcare. Currently, there are 515 Aam Aadmi Mohalla Clinics, 4 Mahila Mohalla Clinics, 175 allopathic dispensaries, 60 Primary Urban Health Centers (PUHCs), 30 Polyclinics and 39 MultiSpecialty / Super Specialty Hospitals with a capacity of 14,244 beds that provide health care services to more than four crore patients annually. More than 250 diagnostic tests and 165 essential medicines are also available free of cost.
Also Read: “Mohalla Clinics Have Revolutionized The Delivery Of Healthcare In Delhi,” Experts Laud Delhi’s 450 Mohalla Clinics
Taking this initiative forward, Mohalla Clinics will be developed at metro stations. In the next year, the government plans to expand the number of Mahila Mohalla Clinics from 4 to 104 across the city.
The government has also decided to conduct 450 types of free tests such as HCV Genotyping, Antibody Titre, among others in Mohalla Clinics as well as in other medical institutions like primary dispensaries, polyclinics, and hospitals through government authorised agencies similar to that provided in Mohalla Clinics.
The number of beds available for patients in Delhi government hospitals will be increased from 14,000 to approximately 30,000.
7. Roof Top Solar
Delhi Solar Policy aims to meet 25 per cent of Delhi’s annual electricity demand through solar energy by 2025, which currently stands at 9 per cent.
To achieve this, the (solar) policy has set a target of installing solar infrastructure with a capacity of 6,000 MW by 2025, which will include 750 MW of “Roof Top Solar” (RTS). The policy also aims to generate around 12,000 green jobs in Delhi.
Also Read: 16-Year-Old Anvitha Is Educating India’s Rural Communities About The Benefits Of Solar Power
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.